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Monday, November 13, 2023

On Wasserman on Sorkin on Free Speech

I agree with Howard's observation about the paean to free speech at the end of Aaron Sorkin's The American President

Admittedly, still kind of insufferably over-the-top. But it contains the kernel of the right idea for Jewish students encountering discomforting, oppressive, offensive speech.

But why stop there?  Every campus has a DEI program that seeks to reduce (and sometimes penalize) discomforting, oppressive, offensive speech, often excluding Jewish students -- de facto, and sometimes even explicitly -- from those under its protection.

One of the DEI verities is the impact matters more than intent, again often excluding Jewish students from the potentially impacted groups.

Consider for example the Hamas slogan "From the river to the sea." Israeli and Jewish students quite reasonably regard this as calling for the destruction of Israel, which would result in many Jewish deaths. Many of those who chant "From the river to the sea" on campus mean just that, but others claim that the slogan merely calls for freedom and equal rights in Israel and occupied Palestine.

Maybe so, but why does the presumably non-violent intent matter more than the threatening impact?

I don't think that slogan, or any other, should be banned or penalized. But why haven't DEI offices spoken up about the hostile environment it creates for Jewish and Israeli students?


Posted by Steve Lubet on November 13, 2023 at 06:43 AM | Permalink


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